01 Jun 2014
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Clubs Hopping

The Boston alumni association marks the 20th year of its Community Action Partners program
Re: Amelia Angella (MBA 2001)

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EMPOWERING NONPROFITS  While the HBS Association of Boston's Community Action Partners (CAP) program actually began in 1993, they're marking its 20th anniversary this year. "We operate in a cycle of October to May," says current executive director Amelia Angella (MBA 2001), so the celebration commemorates not the conception but rather the execution. It's fitting: The organization matches local nonprofits with volunteer HBS alumni who help the groups build strategies to achieve the outcomes their donors and clients expect. We talked to Angella about CAP, the challenges a modern nonprofit faces, and how a new breed of donors has shifted the sector.

CAP'S CHARGE  "We bring the experience of HBS alumni to nonprofits that may not otherwise be able to access those types of resources. The number one issue we work on with nonprofits is strategic planning."

COMMON CHALLENGES "Nonprofits are so resource-constrained, they typically spend a lot of time fighting fires and don't have the time to step back and really think strategically. When you're a mission-driven organization, people have passionate views, but we're also able to view things with an independent lens and facilitate conversations between the board and the executives, which might not otherwise happen in a constructive way."

CHANGING LANDSCAPE "I think there is much more of a focus on outcomes and outcomes measurement today. That's something we are seeing in our applications and in what people are asking us to work on. I think funders are also paring down their portfolios. Funding can be tougher to get, so people are turning to less traditional models, like crowdsourcing or social media or event-based fundraising."

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